The Role of Physical Therapy in Axillary Nerve Injury

shoulder tension test

Physical Therapy for Axillary Nerve Injuries: Comprehensive Recovery and Prevention


Physical therapy is a form of medical care that assists individuals in recovering from injury or managing chronic and acute conditions. It can help with pain management, restoring mobility, and restoring strength. Physical therapists provide treatments to improve movement, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapy can help people suffering from axillary nerve injury. 

Axillary nerve injury results when the axillary nerve is damaged due to trauma or compression of the shoulder joint. This type of injury most commonly occurs as a result of a fracture to the humerus bone, dislocation of the shoulder joint, or direct impact on the shoulder area. Symptoms may include a tingling sensation in fingers, weakness in shoulder muscles, and loss of sensation in certain areas near the shoulder joint. 

What to Expect at Physical Therapy 

Physical therapy for axillary nerve injuries involves a comprehensive evaluation of your range of motion (ROM), strength, flexibility, and endurance. After assessing your condition, your therapist will develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific symptoms and needs. This plan will focus on restoring function and relieving discomfort through targeted exercises, stretches, and manual techniques. 

Your treatment may also include the use of modalities such as electrotherapy (TENS) or ultrasound, depending on what your therapist deems to be the most effective approach. These modalities can help accelerate the healing process and reduce pain. Regular sessions with your therapist can help you recover from your axillary nerve injury and get back to your normal routine as quickly and safely as possible. Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist any questions you may have about your treatment plan or the recovery process. 

Remember, the key to successful recovery is consistency and patience, and your therapist will help guide you every step of the way. 

What Types Of Exercises You Might Do And Why They Help 

Exercises for shoulder rehabilitation and strengthening may include: 

  • Rotator cuff strengthening: strengthens shoulder muscles for stability and better movement 
  • Scapular stabilization: stabilizes the shoulder blade for better posture and range of motion 
  • Pendulum exercises: improves shoulder joint mobility and flexibility within the capsule 
  • Passive and active assistive ROM stretching: increases movement range and flexibility 
  • Isometric contractions: strengthens muscles without movement, reducing pain and enhancing healing 
  • Resisted active ROM movements: boosts muscle strength and endurance for improved function 
  • Eccentric contraction training: improves muscle control, reducing the risk of injury recurrence 
  • Proprioception drills: enhances sensory awareness for better coordination and balance 
  • Postural retraining: corrects posture to lessen pain and dysfunction 
  • Dynamic warm-up activities: prepares the shoulder for movement and reduces muscle tightness 
  • Balance tasks with eyes open/closed/both combinations: improves balance control essential for daily activities, work, and sports. 

How Long Recovery Takes 

Recovery from an axillary nerve injury is influenced by factors like the extent of nerve fiber damage, age, and prior activity levels. Although every healing process is unique, significant improvement may take up to six months. Long-term complications like sensory loss or muscle weakness are possible even after physical therapy, so follow up with your doctor regularly for continued progress toward full recovery. 

How Physical Therapy Prevents Re-Injury 

Physical therapy prevents re-injury by focusing on strength building through exercise protocols specific to each individual’s needs & goals. This field emphasizes proper posture & ergonomic education with restoration & maintenance plans developed together for prevention efforts via long-term maintenance programs for daily lifestyle activities at home & work. 


Physical therapy is essential in the recovery from axillary nerve injuries and uses evidence-based treatments such as manual therapies and tailored exercise regimens for each individual. Proper education, guidance, and skilled techniques together promote safe, efficient healing within a healthy setting.